Wal-Mart Stores filed a notice with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission this week announcing plans to change its legal name effective Feb. 1, which is the start of the company’s fiscal year. The corporate name will change to Walmart Inc., in a move to reflect how customers want to shop, the retailer said.
“The name change chiefly demonstrates the company’s growing emphasis on serving customers seamlessly however they want to shop: in stores, online, on their mobile device, or through pickup and delivery. Our customers know us as Walmart and today they shop with us not only in our stores but online and with our app as well,” said Doug McMillon, president and CEO of Wal-Mart Stores.
“While our legal name is used in a limited number of places, we felt it was best to have a name that was consistent with the idea that you can shop us however you like as a customer. Looking ahead, we’ll continue to invest in and strengthen our stores around the world and expand our eCommerce capabilities as we help save customers’ time and money. As time goes on, customers will increasingly just think of and see one Walmart,” McMillon added.
Over the past several years there has been some confusion about the difference between Wal-Mart Stores and Walmart. The retailer has insisted it wants to be known as “one Walmart” but legally, Wall Street and journalists often referred to the retail conglomerate as Wal-Mart Stores, because that has been its legal name since Jan. 1, 1970. The retailer incorporated on Oct. 31, 1969, as Wal-Mart Inc. but that was changed in 1970, the year the retailer went public.
The company said it has been using the “Walmart” logo in its operations since June 2008. Wal-Mart operates under nearly 60 different banners around the world, including eCommerce sites, and has more than 11,600 stores and clubs in 28 countries. The company opened its first international location in Mexico City in 1991 and launched Walmart.com in 2000.
The retail giant said its stock will continue to trade on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol “WMT” and going forward the company name should be referenced as “Walmart”. The company said will amend its bylaws and compensatory plans in order to comply with this new legal name.
University of Arkansas corporate governance expert Dr. Alan Ellstrand said the name change should be less confusing.
“A corporate identity is important to the firm and all organizational stakeholders,” said Ellstrand, who is the associate dean of academic programs and research at the Sam M. Walton College of Business. “By changing its official name to Walmart, the company will reduce confusion and align the name with the one that customers are most familiar with. It should simplify and clarify the identity of Walmart.”
Until Feb. 1, Talk Business & Politics will continue to refer to the company as Wal-Mart Stores (NYSE: WMT). The retailer’s shares were flat in pre-market trading at $97.82. Over the past 52 weeks shares have traded between a low $65.28 and a high $100.13. Year-to-date Wal-Mart shares are up 42%, capping off one of the retailer’s best stock performances in decades.
Wal-Mart Stores will report its fourth-quarter earnings on Feb. 20, ahead of the market opening.